Three stretches to figure out a swimmers WEST “D.N.A.”
After having diagnosed tens of thousands of people over the years, we came up with stretches that will allow a person to understand how he or she is supposed to swim, even if he or she doesn’t have any experience in water therapy.
The combination of age, gender, physical ability and those three stretches gives us a very good understanding of how to make a swimmer float better, swim without tension or stress, learn how to swim faster and mainly avoid feeling pain.
The basis of WEST technique says: Let’s challenge our body to the limit, and a little bit less. Let’s understand we are no Olympic swimmers or contortionists and we should take care of the most important areas of our body: the lower back, which is the center of balance, and the neck, which is the stress and tension area.
The three stretches follow the same rule.
The first stretch is an arrow lift. Our goal in this stretch is to raise our hands, palms together, until we can feel pressure in our shoulders, neck or lower back, or that our elbows opened.
This stretch actually shows us how much pressure we have on our shoulder blades, how inflexible our shoulders are, and in fact what will our optimal stretch depth in the water be, or, in other words, how close to the waterline we can bring our hands without creating stress. This depth will make us go farther, float better and swim faster.
A – The hands barely rise
B – The hands rise to almost face level
C – The hands reach behind the head easily and without pressure
Hold your hands behind your back and lift a high as you can while your back and elbows stay straight.
This stretch shows us how much stress we have in our lives or how inflexible our shoulder blades are. The stretch also works on the lung meridian which shows us how much air we can draw into our lungs (how open our chest is).
When we have a lot of stress in the shoulders and neck it will be difficult for us to lift our hands and so it will be hard to lift the elbow while swimming, the body wouldn’t float well and our range of movement will be smaller.
A – It’s hard to lift the hands and they stay close to our backside.
B – Hands go up to almost 90 degrees.
C – Hands reach 90 degrees and over.
Raise your leg to about waist level, when your back leg is facing the wall, and bend your head towards your knee while keeping both legs straight.
The object of this drill is to check your UB meridian, or, in other words, how much stress you have from your head to your lower back. The more tension you have in your muscles (especially the hamstring), the harder your legwork will be, and you will become tired more quickly.
People with acute pain will have a hard time even raising the leg to the starting position, and so must choose type A from the start.
A – People who have a hard time raising the leg to the starting position or that their nose-knee distance is greater than 40cm
B – People who can reach 20-40cm from the knee
C – People who can reach less than 20cm from the knee
How do you calculate the overall flexibility and why do you need to know your WEST flexibility level?
The most important thing is to note your current situation and understand that at the end of the course your flexibility will be dramatically improved. That means your muscles will use less oxygen when you swim, and so you will float better and swim faster.
We will calculate A as 1, B as 2 and C as 3.
Add up all your stretch results.
If your flexibility level is A+B+C (1+2+3), your average is B (2).
If your flexibility level is B+B+C (2+2+3), your average is still B (2) (rounded).
If your flexibility level is A+A+B (1+1+2), your average is A (1).
If your flexibility level is A+A+C (1+1+3), your average is b (2), but in this case it’s recommended that you send me photos so that I can evaluate the situation better.
Even if during the course you will only swim like a B, you will still learn how to swim and still treat your lower back, but you will progress slower and eventually will not break down your stress or move forward as quickly as we expect you to. This is why during the course you will work on enhancing your flexibility and breaking up stress, so that you could progress rapidly.
Finding the right style to your body built will help you learn to swim faster, loosen your neck and lower back and enable you to swim faster with less effort.